In Greek mythology, the Amazons (, ', singular , ') were a race of woman warriors. Herodotus reported that they were related to the Scythians (an Iranian people) and placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia (modern territory of Ukraine). Other historiographers place them in Anatolia, or sometimes Libya.
Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea, who participated in the Trojan War, and her sister Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Ares, was the object of one of the labours of Hercules. Amazon warriors were often depicted in battle with Greek warriors in amazonomachies in classical art.
The Amazons have become associated with many historical people throughout the Roman Empire period and Late Antiquity. In Roman historiography, there are various accounts of Amazon raids in Anatolia. From the early modern period, their name has become a term for female warriors in general. Amazons were said to have founded the cities and temples of Smyrna, Sinope, Cyme, Gryne, Ephesus, Pitania, Magnesia, Clete, Pygela, Latoreria and Amastris; according to legend, the Amazons also invented the cavalry.
The origin of the word is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian ethnonym ''
*ha-mazan-'' "warriors", a word attested as a denominal verb in Hesychius of Alexandria's gloss ("': 'to make war' in Persian") and which also appears together with the Indo-Iranian root ''
*kar-'' "make" in Sanskrit ''karma''.〔Lagercrantz, ''Xenia Lidéniana'' (1912), 270ff., cited after Hjalmar Frisk, ''Greek Etymological Dictionary'' (1960–1970)〕
However, Hittite researcher Friedrich Cornelius assumes that there had been the land Azzi with the capital Chajasa in the area of the Thermodon-Iris Delta on the coast of the Black Sea. He brings its residents in direct relation to the Amazons, namely based on its name (woman of the land Azzi = 'Am'+ 'Azzi' = Amazon) and its customs (matriarchal custom of promiscuous sexual intercourse, even with blood relatives)
Alternatively, a Greek derivation from ' "manless, without husbands" (''a-'' privative and a derivation of ''
*man-'' also found in Slavic ''muzh'') has been proposed, an explanation deemed "unlikely" by Hjalmar Frisk.〔Jacobsohn, KZ 54, 278ff., cited after Hjalmar Frisk (1960–1970).〕 19th century scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym Amazigh.〔Guy Cadogan Rothery, ''The Amazons'' (1910), (ch. 7 ): "There have been some authors who trace the word Amazon from this term."〕 A further explanation proposes Iranian
*''ama-janah'' "virility-killing" as source.
Among Classical Greeks, ''amazon'' was given a popular etymology as from ' () and ' (), "without breast", connected with an etiological tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off or burnt out.〔Justinus' "Historiae Phillippicae ex Trogo Pompeio", Liber II, 4: "Virgines (...) armis, equis, venationibus exercebant, inustis infantum dexterioribus mammis, ne sagittarum iactus impediantur; unde dictae Amazones." "They exercised the virgins on weapon-wielding, horse-riding and hunting, and burned the children's right breasts, so that arrow-throwing wouldn't be impeded; and for such reason, they were called Amazons."〕 There is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the left is frequently covered (see photos in article). Adrienne Mayor suggests the origin of this myth was due to the word's etymology.〔〔(Mayor, Start the Week, Radio Four, 6 April 2015, 21:30 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05plghp )〕
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